Who needs 'em? When it comes to Walmart versus the spotted owl, why not choose the one where the price is right? Or maybe, with the new bill the house just passed, you can make money off the damn owl. I own its rotting old grown habitat. Perhaps the government can buy my land. I think I'll set the asking price at $50,000/acre. The govt. can afford it. Especially with the way we're making the poor pay more. And the more they pay, the more poor we create. Heck, maybe I can charge $100,000 because the govt helps those who help themselves.
Following the intelligent design model, the intelligent designer (whose name shall remain upspoken) spotted owls are less complex a model, therefore, worth less.
The only value is that which useful to humans. And making money for those humans. I suppose having the whole planet covered in Ivory homes will be profitable.
I wonder how to quantify the value of wilderness and diversity of species--perhaps I should say to those who complain that wilderness is only for backpackers and hikers that we won't go there either. That they're for no one. That the idea of the place is all humans get. And that is a lot. Being able to imagine a place separate from humans is what helps us to understand what it means to be human.
Perhaps only by hanging a price-tag on wilderness and habitat is the only way to decide what it's worth. So how much for the spotted owl? How much for the Amazon rainforest. Bill Gates has a lot of money. Can he buy it? And then put a big electric fence around it to keep the poachers and land-clearers and Republicans away. Until they can pay up.